If you are new to food allergies, you will most likely experience the 5 stages of grief. Even non-allergic parents or caregivers of children with newly diagnosed food allergies can experience the stages of grief. These are the same stages of grief experienced with any kind of loss or sudden and unexpected lifestyle change that is beyond your control:
It’s hard for anyone to believe that normal, healthy food can actually cause harm to you or your child. Before your diagnosis, you were strongly encouraged to eat this food. Now, you are supposed to avoid it. You may even be tempted to experiment with the food again to see if the same reactions really will occur or if it was just a one-time occurrence, and may also question or doubt that the food is really the factor that caused your original symptoms in the first place, or if something else could have triggered it. Talking with your doctor and verifying with additional or alternative testing procedures can help you come to grips with the fact that your food allergy is, in fact, a reality.
Once you finally accept that your food allergy is reality, it’s natural to feel angry about it. “Why me? Why now?” It’s ok and natural to feel angry, but it’s important to recognize why you are feeling angry and find ways to deal with and move beyond it.
As you work to deal with your anger, you might try to bargain. “Is there anything I can do to change my allergy? It will be ok if I just have a small amount, once in a while, right?”. While you are going through this stage, recognize again that this is a natural part of the grieving process. These thoughts are your way of trying to find a way to accept this new diagnosis. Answer these questions honestly and focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
Moving on to the depression stage is actually a good sign that you are finally beginning to accept the reality of your diagnosis. As you begin to accept your allergy, it is ok and natural to feel sad. Work through these feelings and seek professional help if you feel like you are getting stuck in this stage. While feeling sad initially is ok, it is not healthy to dwell in this area for long.
Finally, once you have worked through each stage of the grieving process, you are ready to accept and move forward with your new diagnosis. Your instinct to fight instead of flight will help you to move forward with confidence and give you the energy you need to cope with and handle your new responsibilities. Act on these feelings and seek out as many resources you can to enrich and embrace your new life.